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Glossary of words used in the 1800s.

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Part One

The Beginnings of our time era.

Two hundred years ago, the Miami Valley was the land where the West began. It was the frontier with Indians lurking in the deep forests. As the valley developed, the great city of Cincinnati became the Queen City of the West.The Miami Valley grew into the fabled land, or as Abraham Lincoln described it, "the garden spot of the world." Few river valleys have as rich a history as the Miami Valley of Southwestern Ohio.

Origins of several of the counties:

Butler - 1803 - Hamilton.
General Richard Butler fought through the Revolutionary War, and later took part in St. Clair's ill-fated campaign against the Indians in western Ohio, where he was killed in 1791.

Montgomery - 1803 - Dayton.
In 1775 Gen. Montgomery led a military expedition to Canada and succeeded in capturing Montreal, but he died in the attack on Quebec, becoming the first American general to be killed in the Revolution.

Preble - 1808 - Eaton.
Gen. Edward Preble won his place in history as Commander of the naval attack
force on the pirates of Tripoli in 1804, thus gaining world respect for the new nation. He had served in the American Revolution.

Warren - 1803 - Lebanon.
As a doctor,General Joseph Warren helped organize forces for the American Revolution, and made speeches of protest over the Boston Massacre. As General, his service was short, for he was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The Miami Valleys

Of all the great waterways of Ohio, only the Miami Rivers were able to imprint their names on a large geographical section of the state. Other areas must be satisfied to be identified by mundane geographical terms. When people refer to Southwestern Ohio, however, they use the term - the Miami Valley. It is based upon the name of the two rivers in whose valleys the Miami Indians once lived. In the language of the Indians, the word Miami meant, "all-beavers-all-friends-men."

While river valleys often do not respect man-drawn political boundary lines, it is agreed by geographers that 14 counties in Southwestern Ohio are within the drainage basis of the two Miami Rivers. Of course, the tributaries of the Great Miami sneak across the Indiana State Line, and drain some of the eastern section of that state, especially the Whitewater River, which empties into the Great Miami in southwestern Hamilton County, near the lowest point of elevation in Ohio (428 feet).

The two rivers are known as the Great Miami and the Little Miami. The Great Miami, true to its name, is the larger, draining about 4,000 square miles in Ohio, and another 1300 square miles in Indiana. The Little Miami, lying east of its big sister, has a drainage basin of about 2,000 square miles. Together the rivers' basins cover almost 6,000 square miles of Ohio's southwestern corner. This is about 15 per cent of the total land area of the state, yet 20 percent of the people of Ohio live in the Miami Valley.

The two valleys stretch northward from the Ohio River for about 100 miles, and average about 70 miles in width. In the northern section of the valley at Bellefontaine, the state reaches its highest elevation (1,548 feet). Bound by the Ohio River on the south, which receives water from both Miami Rivers, the valley might be called the Land of the Three Rivers. But it isn't - it's just the Miami Valley.
(From George Crout Histories)


The Beginnings of our time era: History Part Two

Mound Builders

Southwestern Ohio is the land of the long past. People have lived among the shadows of its forests for thousands of years. The first of the ancient peoples to inhabit the Miami Valley came during the Ice Age, and very likely lived in caves. After these people came the Mound Builders, an apt description of them as they left behind thousands of mounds rising skyward, some of which have survived the ravages of time and man.

Butler County is said to have contained over 250 mounds and 17 enclosures, which puts the county second in the state, next to Ross, for the number of earthworks discovered. The Great Butler Mound overlooks Middletown, rising some 45 feet on a 500-foot circular base. From it ancient people could have communicated by smoke signals with groups around the Kinder Mound, atop Pennyroyal Hill at Franklin as well as with those around the great Miamisburg Mound in Montgomery County.

The Great Adena Mound at Miamisburg reaches almost 70 feet into the sky, covering about 3 acres at the base. It is considered the second most important example of the Mound Builders' art in the nation.

But the largest of all the earthworks is in Warren County. Fort Ancient is now a state park. Students from all over the world come to study it and unravel its mysteries. It has intrigued American archaeologists since it was first mapped in 1810. High above the east bank of the Little Miami River, it commands a view of the surrounding area. It includes, besides a fort, a village site, and also served as a ceremonial center. While built by the Hopewell people, it later became the home of the Fort Ancient Culture.

Thousands of years ago these people lived in the Miami Valley. They worked without beasts of burden, building their mounds with their own muscles. They communicated without a written language.
They lived by the hunt - nomads of the forests.


The Beginnings of our time era:History Part Three

Valley of Ice Cedar Bog

Geologists have discovered that four glaciers once moved southward across the Miami Valley. The first one covered the valley some 500,000 years ago, and the last one began melting 50,000 years ago.

The time of the glaciers is known as the
Ice Age.

The last trace of the Ice Age in the Miami Valley is found at Cedar Bog State Memorial Park, southwest of Urbana in Champaign County off State Route 68. This bog was formed over 10,000 years ago, as the Ice Age was ending. A lake fed by spring water developed in an old river valley filled with limestone gravel.

Vegetation grew over the shallow lake's surface and some of the plants of the Ice Age continued to grow. Unusual natural factors kept Cedar Bog alive. Cool, alkaline springs provided the bog with an even temperature throughout the year. The cool water supported the Brook Trout, the Spotted Turtle and the Massasauga Rattlesnake (Swamp Rattlesnake.)

Rare plants may be studied at Cedar Bog including Yellow Lady Slippers, Star Flowers, Alder-leaf Buckthorn, Bellwort, small native orchids and others. The Sundew and the Pitcher Plant feed on the insects of the bog. Unusual wild fowl are found there such as the Ring-neck Pheasant, the American Bittern, the Marsh Owl and the Yellow Rail.

In pioneer days Cedar Bog covered about 7,000 acres, but the settlers burned off the vegetation, cleared and drained the rich land for agriculture. By 1910 only 600 acres remained, and this was reduced to 50 acres before the State of Ohio realized it was losing a great natural resource.

In 1942 the state purchased 100 acres of bog and forest land, and in 1971 added another 100 acres. A board walk trail has been built over the bog so that visitors may view this last, small piece of Ice-Age Ohio that is still with us.


The Beginnings of our time era: History Part Four

Butler CountyHamilton, Ohio - Miami Natives
SquattersSymmes Purchase - Great Miami River

Butler County - founded 1803 – Hamilton is the county seat named after General Richard Butler who fought through the Revolutionary War, and later took part in St. Clair's ill-fated campaign against the Indians in western Ohio, where he was killed in 1791. The Great Miami River has imprinted its name on a large geographical section of the state. When people refer to Southwestern Ohio, they use the term - the Miami Valley. It is based upon the name of the two rivers in whose valleys the Miami Indians once lived. In the language of the Indians, the word Miami meant, "all-beavers-all-friends-men."

The tributaries of the Great Miami sneak across the Indiana State Line, and drain some of the eastern section of that state, especially the Whitewater River, which empties into the Great Miami in southwestern Hamilton County, near the lowest point of elevation in Ohio (428 feet).

The Great Miami River drains about 4,000 square miles in Ohio, and another 1300 square miles in Indiana. In the northern section of the valley at Bellefontaine, the state reaches its highest elevation (1,548 feet). Bound by the Ohio River on the south, which receives water from both Miami Rivers, we live in an area called the Miami Valley. County seat is an old term used to designate the center of governmental activities of a county. It may or may not be, the largest city in a county, but the site was originally picked due to its central location. Around Fort Hamilton, named to honor Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, a town developed which was chosen the county seat of Butler County.

The state of Ohio, west of the Scioto River, all of Indiana, a large part of Illinois, and southern Michigan were all, at one time, the land of the Miami Indians. The Miami tribe was part of the Algonquin Confederacy, as were the Delaware and Shawnee. The Miamis were among the first to settle in the Ohio country, and became the most powerful tribe in the region. Since even their story tellers had forgotten their origin, it is assumed that the Miami Indians had lived for many generations in the old Northwest, and were the oldest tribe to live in the Miami Valley.

The Miamis living in a rich land that produced good yields of Indian maize (corn) and other food were under almost constant attack. They developed a strong fighting force and could put 2,000 warriors on the field. The Miami Indians were very intelligent, a generous and kind people, who fought only to preserve their way of life. Outside the Miami Valley, there were other Ohio Indian tribes, and all of these taken together are estimated to represent no more than 15,000 natives.

The first account of buffalo in the valley was reported in 1687 by a French trader. In 1751 Christopher Gist, an English trader, traveling through the Miami country, noted its beautiful meadows with all kinds of game. Gist wrote in his diary that he "went southwestward down the Little Miami River where I had fine traveling through rich land and beautiful meadows in which I could sometimes see 40 or 50 buffaloes feeding at once."

Buffaloes ranged in weight from 1200 to 2000 pounds, so traveling from one salt lick to another, their being fond of salt, they pounded out a wide path, called a trace. The big animals sought the easiest path and wound their way around hills and along streams. The Indians followed these traces which made walking much easier. The buffalo trace was wide enough for a wagon to travel, so the pioneers followed it. Some of the winding roads of the Miami Valley today were made by buffalo herds. By 1800 the buffalo disappeared from the Miami Valley, and the last buffalo in Ohio was reported in Jackson County in 1802.

Five flags have flown in our Miami Valley area.

Spain: Spain and Portugal finally agreed to a division of the lands of the newly discovered American continents proposed by the Pope. Under this agreement, Spain was given the vast lands of North America, which included the Ohio and Miami Valleys.

France: 1669 - La Salle put his canoe into the Ohio River and took the French flag down the beautiful river, past the mouths of the two Miami Rivers. Whether he explored the Miami Valley is not known. The French under Celoron did explore the valley in 1749.

England: They objected to the French flag flying over the Ohio Valley and in 1751 sent Christopher Gist to challenge their claims, resulting in raising the English flag over the Indian villages of the Miami Valley.

Frontiersmen: As Virginia fought to hold its claim on the Ohio Country, the frontiersmen fought under the flags of the American Revolution. These emblems of freedom floated over pioneer settlements in the Miami Valley.

United States: The flags of the Revolution were replaced by one standard flag, the Stars and Stripes, which was adopted as the national emblem. The Miami Valley became part of the Territory of the Northwest, and the Ordinance of 1787 set up an orderly procedure for the creation of new states, the first of which was Ohio, born March 1, 1803.

Tomahawk Rights ---- The Squatters of Miami Valley

No one knows their names, and no monuments stand over their dead. They searched out the new land west of the Appalachians, and they built crude, log cabins in the valley of the Great Miami River. They were the first white people to dwell in the Miami Valley. Historians estimated that as many as 1500 white settlers lived along the frontier in Southwestern Ohio before and during the American Revolution. Uninvited, they came against the wishes of the British King, who had ordered the Colonists to remain along the Atlantic seaboard.

The frontiersmen disputed the right of King George to draw the Proclamation Line of 1763 reserving all the land west of the mountains to the natives. They argued that man had a natural right to pass into every vacant country and build a home and set up his own government. The frontiersmen spotted the best farm land and with their tomahawks they cut their marks into big trees on the four corners of the property they claimed. The name given these people was that of "Squatters."

The Squatters built a cabin, erected rough fences from brush to keep in their cattle, horses and pigs. They cultivated a few acres of land, after clearing it, or perhaps farmed land already cleared by the Indians before them. There were many areas of vacant Indian old lands, as they were called, as the Indians deserted the small garden sites after the soil had been stripped of its virgin elements.

They merely moved their villages when the garbage and refuge piled up. But time restored the soil and cleansed the land. When the U.S. government surveyed and sold the land, the Squatters when shown the legal deeds by the pioneers usually moved on. Some were given a small cash gift for their improvements.

Symmes Purchase

Capt. Fig was the first Indian to greet John Cleves Symmes when he arrived at North Bend in February 1789. The Symmes party had left New Jersey with eight, four-horse wagons carrying 30 people westward to the Miami Valley. He had purchased about 250,000 acres of rich land between the two Miami Rivers, an area extending from the Ohio River northward to the present site of Monroe, just south of Middletown. He planned to re-sell the land to emigrants.

Fort Hamilton on the Great Miami River

Although the government had made a treaty with the Indians, which ceded the land of the Miami Valley to the white man, most of the Indians continued their attacks on the pioneers. In 1790 the U.S. authorities ordered Gen. Josiah Harmar to organize a military unit and drive the Indians off the land. Some 1400 frontiersmen drilled under Gen. Harmar and then met the enemy. They left the field with 300 soldiers dead.

The following year, Gen. Arthur St. Clair, one of Washington's best generals in the American Revolution was sent out to build up a new army of 3,000 soldiers. They were to be drilled and equipped so that they could carry out a successful campaign. Gen. St. Clair decided that a chain of forts would be needed up the Miami Valley, both as protection against the Indians and as supply depots. Early in September 1791, about 2300 soldiers left Fort Washington, marched northward.

Men arriving late were ordered to join St. Clair's army at the proposed new fort along the Great Miami. On September 17th, Gen. St. Clair and his officers picked out the site for the first in a chain of forts. It was in the midst of a great prairie of about 300 acres, covered by grass and wild oats, along the east bank of the Great Miami River, 25 miles north of Fort Washington.

The fort area was about 150-foot square. A trench was dug three feet deep in which the pickets were set. Since 2,000 were needed the men had to scour the woods to find enough tall, straight trees, with trunks between 9 and 13 inches in diameter. Each had to be cut, trimmed and sawed off to at 20 feet. These pickets were dragged by oxen to the site. Here they were butted and placed upright in a trench. A thin piece of lumber at the top of the pickets was used to pin them together. The trench was then packed with earth. The new post was named Fort Hamilton in honor of the man then Secretary of the Treasury.

The above histories are taken from the histories of George Crout, local historian.


The Beginnings of our time era: History Part Five

Hueston Woods, Ohio State Park

Millions of years ago, a shallow sea covered Ohio, depositing fossil-rich limestone and dolomite bedrock. Fertile soils, left behind by glaciers thousands of years ago, created a productive land that attracted early Native Americans, including the Miami people, and settlers.

In 1797, Matthew Hueston, after serving with General “Mad” Anthony Wayne in the Indian wars, bought land for a farm in Butler and Preble counties. He left a remnant of the woods standing for his descendants.

When the last of the Huestons died in the 1930s, Morris Taylor, a conservationist, purchased the woods and held it in trust, while Cloyd Acton, a Preble County legislator, influenced the state legislature to buy the land in 1941. Hueston Woods was designated a state forest, and in 1945, money was appropriated to buy additional land.

In 1952, the Oxford Honor Camp was located here, housing honor-status inmates for 12 years. In the summer of 1956, an earthen dam was completed across Four Mile Creek, creating Acton Lake. Hueston Woods became a state park in 1957. The old-growth forest was added to the National Registry of National Landmarks in 1967, and became a state nature preserve in 1973.

Hueston Woods State Nature Preserve
200 Acres Old-growth woods with excellent spring wildflowers.

Hueston Woods is a tiny remnant of the beech-maple forest that once stretched in a broad band from southwestern Ohio to its northeastern corner. This forest type is dominated by the ghostly gray trunks of beech trees along with varying proportions of sugar maple, red and white oaks, and white ash.

The quantity and variety of species vary according to the wetness and slope of the ground and other environmental factors. In Hueston Woods, beech trees form nearly 44 percent of the canopy; sugar maples make up 28 percent and white ash 19 percent.

During the spring, the forest floor is blanketed with a luxuriant display of wildflowers including Dutchman’s breeches, squirrel corn, large-flowered and sessile trilliums, may-apple, bloodroot and several species of violets and buttercups.

Location: Located in Preble/Butler counties, 5 miles north of Oxford within Hueston Woods State Park on the west side of Acton Lake. Parking lot and trail system present.

Historic Hopewell Church

The church was established on the Ohio frontier in 1808 by the migration of many Scot-Irish descents from South Carolina who came here to escape the slavery issue shaking off the very dust of anything to do with it and to become a part of the Underground Railroad system.

Hopewell Church is located in the Cincinnati/Dayton area of Ohio. The church is located north of Morning Sun, Ohio off of St. Rt. 177, and west on Camden-College Corner Rd. approx. one-half mile.

In the years 1806 and 1807 several families, members of the Associate Reformed Church, emigrated from the states of Kentucky and South Carolina and settled in the county of Montgomery (now Preble).

In the summer of 1807 Mr. Risk favored them with a sermon at the house of Wm. McCreary. In 1808 they formed themselves into a society and in conjunction with the people of Concord petitioned the Presbytery of Kentucky for supplies (“supplies” means a minister) and in the month of Sept. Mr. Craig preached at the house of David McDill and organized the congregation.

Ruling elders were at the same time nominated and chosen by the congregation, namely, David McQuiston, John Patterson, Andrew McQuiston, James Boyse and Ebenezer Elliot, all of whom had been formerly ordained.

In the years 1806 and 1807 several families, members of the Associate Reformed Church, emigrated from the states of Kentucky and South Carolina and settled in the county of Montgomery (now Preble). In the summer of 1807 Mr. Risk favored them with a sermon at the house of Wm. McCreary.

In 1808 they formed themselves into a society and in conjunction with the people of Concord petitioned the Presbytery of Kentucky for supplies (“supplies” means a minister) and in the month of Sept. Mr. Craig preached at the house of David McDill and organized the congregation.

They continued to get some supplies of sermon from the Kentucky Presbytery and their numbers increased by emigration from different states, but a prospect of having a minister settled among them never opened until of 1814 when the Rev. Mr. Alex. Porter, pastor of the A. R. Church at Cedar Springs, Abbeville, S. Car. came on a visit to the Western churches and at this place preached two Sabbaths and one week day.

At this time the congregation had increased to about 50 families who shortly presented a call for yearly salary for 2/3 of his ministerial labors, and also the congregations of Hamilton and Concord for 1/3 of his ministerial labors, $166.66 2/3 with the understanding that as soon as the latter congregation could be otherwise provided for, the former would get the whole of his labors.

In 1964 the Historic Hopewell Church was revived, and in 1999 it underwent exterior and interior restoration. Mission Statement: ‘To Preserve Our Heritage & Perpetuate Its Care for Future Generations & To Promote The Organization By Inviting Others To Join With Us To Support This Worthy Goal.’

A Brief History of Oxford, Ohio
Miami University - McGuffey Museum

In 1803 a college township was set aside in the almost uninhabited woodlands of northwestern Butler County. In 1810, a year after Miami University was chartered, the Village of Oxford was laid out and the first lots were sold.

In the following year the first school was built and by 1830, with a population of over 700, the Village of Oxford was incorporated. A charter form of government was adopted in 1961 and a decade later population growth had turned the village into a full-fledged city.

The original boundaries of the City consisted of the Mile Square. A number of annexations during recent decades increased the size, resulting in the City currently consisting of approximately six square miles.

Miami University was founded in 1809 and has about 14,000 undergraduate students today. Miami University is the second oldest liberal arts educational institution in Ohio. Miami University is well known for development of the McGuffey Readers by W.H. McGuffey that began publication in 1836.

The six readers were based on landmarks of world literature that had good basic values. The readers were used over one hundred years in United States schools. The McGuffey Museum is on the Miami University campus located on the corner of Oak and Springs Streets, is open Saturdays and Sundays, 2:00 - 4:00 P.M.

The McGuffey Museum has been a registered National Historic Landmark since 1966, honoring the significance of William Holmes McGuffey and the McGuffey Eclectic Readers. Professor McGuffey was Professor of Ancient Languages and Moral Philosophy at Miami University from 1826 to 1836.

Marrying Harriet Spining of Dayton in 1827, Professor McGuffey bought Outlot 9 and the small frame house upon it in 1828. By 1833, a two-story brick house had been built on the same lot to replace the original dwelling.

The present house is a vernacular adaptation of the Federal style with later enlargements and redecoration. The front porch, elaborate front stairway and downstairs woodwork were probably added in the 1860s. The room now used to display Professor McGuffey’s octagon table, lectern and traveling 3-part secretary/bookcase was a later addition.

Portraits of William Holmes McGuffey and his wife Harriet hang in the parlor, believed to have been painted about 1835 by Horace Harding. A collection of McGuffey Eclectic Readers is on display in the bookcases in the Library. A noted collection of children’s books, including McGuffey Eclectic Readers, is housed in Special collections, King Memorial Library, on the main campus of Miami University.

The First Eclectic Reader, published in 1836, started the series of books that was to edcate five generations of Americans by 1920. Still in print and still used today, the Readers have had numerous publishers and many revisions.

McGuffey Museum, located on the corner of Oak and Springs Streets, is open Saturdays and Sundays, 2:00 - 4:00 P.M. Tours can be arranged by calling 513-529-2232, Miami University Art Museum.


The Beginnings of our time era: History Part Six

The Shawnee Natives of Ohio

Originally located in southern Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, the Shawnee were driven from this area by the Iroquois sometime around the 1660s and then scattered in all directions to South Carolina, Tennessee's Cumberland Basin, eastern Pennsylvania, and southern Illinois. By 1730 most of the Shawnee had returned to their homeland only to be forced to leave once again - this time by American settlement. Moving first to Missouri and then Kansas, the main body finally settled in Oklahoma after the Civil War. The following is a quotation from one of the most known of the Shawnee people, Tecumseh.

"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home."

Chief Tecumseh, of the Shawnee Nation

Estimates of the original Shawnee population range from 3,000 to 50,000, but a reasonable guess is somewhere around 10,000. By 1700 they were still scattered, and accurate estimates were impossible...perhaps 6,000. The first good count occurred in 1825 and gave 1,400 Shawnee in Missouri, 110 in Louisiana, and 800 in Ohio.

There were also a couple hundred in Texas at this time, so the total should have been near 2,500 The Eastern Shawnee in northeastern Oklahoma are descended from the mixed Seneca-Shawnee band which left Lewistown, Ohio and came to the Indian Territory in 1832.

Recognized as a separate tribe in 1867, they organized as the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma during the 1930s and have 1,600 members.

The largest Shawnee group is the Loyal Shawnee, who constituted the main group of the Shawnee prior to the Civil War. Relocated to Oklahoma from Kansas, they purchased land and were incorporated into the Cherokee.

Shawnee comes from the Algonquin word "shawun" (shawunogi) meaning "southerner." However, this referred to their original location in the Ohio Valley relative to other Great Lakes Algonquin rather than a homeland in the American southeast. Shawnee usually prefer to call themselves the Shawano - sometimes given as Shawanoe or Shawanese.

For a period of 70 years following its conquest by the Iroquois during the 1660s, the Ohio Valley (Indiana, Lower Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania) was almost entirely uninhabited. The Iroquois never occupied the area but preferred to use it as a private hunting preserve.

Freed from the pressure of its former human population, the Ohio Country quickly became a prime hunting territory. Although the Iroquois prevented permanent settlements, small groups of Shawnee returned frequently to the Ohio Valley to hunt, so during their many years of exile, the Shawnee never completely surrendered the claim to their homeland.

Meanwhile, they were proving to be unwelcome guests in their new locations. Despite the common threat posed by the Iroquois at the time, the crowded conditions near the French trading posts in Illinois eventually provoked a violent confrontation between the Shawnee and Illinois Confederacy in 1689.

The Shawnee considered the Delaware as their "grandfathers" and the source of all Algonquin tribes. They also shared an oral tradition with the Kickapoo that they were once members of the same tribe. Identical language supports this oral history, and since the Kickapoo are known to have originally lived in northeast Ohio prior to contact, it can safely be presumed that the Shawnee name of "southerner" means they lived somewhere immediately south of the Kickapoo.

However, the exact location is uncertain, since the Iroquois forced both tribes to abandon the area before contact. The loss of their homeland has given the Shawnee the reputation of being wanderers, but this was by necessity, not choice. The Shawnee have always maintained a strong sense of tribal identity, but this produced very little central political organization.

During their dispersal, each of their five divisions functioned as an almost autonomous unit. This continued to plague them after they returned to Ohio, and few Shawnee could ever claim to the title of "head chief." Like the Delaware, Shawnee civil chiefships were hereditary and held for life.

They differed from the Delaware in that, like most Great Lakes Algonquin, the Shawnee were patrilineal with descent traced through the father. War chiefs were selected on the basis of merit and skill.

During their stay in the southeast, the Shawnee acquired some cultural characteristics from the Creek and Cherokee, but, for the most part, they were fairly typical Great Lakes Algonquin. During the summer the Shawnee gathered into large villages of bark-covered long houses, with each village usually having a large council house for meetings and religious ceremonies.

In the fall they separated to small hunting camps of extended families. Men were warriors who did the hunting and fishing. Care of their corn fields was the responsibility of the women. Many important Shawnee ceremonies were tied to the agricultural cycle: the spring bread dance at planting time; the green corn dance when crops ripened; and the autumn bread dance to celebrate the harvest.

Besides Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa (The Prophet), famous Shawnee include: Cornstalk, Blackfish, Black Hoof, and Bluejacket.


The Beginnings of our time era: History Part Seven

The Twin Creek Valley in Montgomery and Preble Counties was uninhabited during the time right before the pioneer men and women came here to settle. No Indian villages were located here, but the locality was a favorite hunting ground for Shawnee, Wyandot, Miami and other tribes for nearly a century before the coming of the pioneers. These were hunting grounds when the Indians were armed simply with the bow and arrow, and for a half century after they became used to the gun.

The waters of the Twin Creeks were popular among the young Indians and the”Tulpehocken anglers.” Tulpehocken Township, Berks County, in Pennsylvania, was the region from which most of the Germantown settlers had emigrated. Bass, catfish and suckers were sought as eagerly by Indians as by the Germantown boys.

Numbers of large fine springs and the tender buffalo grass covered the lands bringing herds of buffalo to feed in the early spring and camps of Indian hunters soon followed. Indian women accompanied the hunters to cure the meat and fish and to make the maple sugar.

Buffalo were driven out by the armies between the years 1791 and 1796. The elk were gone long before. The Germantown forests along Big Twin and Little Twin were full of bear, deer, panthers, wolves and foxes.

The Germantown lands were prospected in the year 1802 by the Pennsylvanian families of Berks County and the families made their trip to Germantown arriving in 1805. They made their journey over the mountains to Pittsburgh, crossed into Ohio with their caravan of Conestoga wagons and pack horses and continued the winding course through the hills to southwestern Ohio.

Some came down the Ohio River by boat most likely purchased at Pittsburg where you could acquire a boat to carry your family goods for a one way trip down the river to your destination where you either broke down the wood to use for building your home or to sell the boat to others.

One of the Germantown settlers, Catherine Schaeffer, had been captured as a child in Pennsylvania by the Indians, held captive for at least 7 years before getting back to her family. She was captured between 1750 and 1760 during the time of the French and Indian War that was started for the possession of the Northwest Territory primarily Ohio lands.

The Indians were allied to the French and under their instigation were committing depredations in the settlements which were under English protection. They were unusually ferocious at this time, devastating and depopulating large districts of country.

Catherine was assigned to care for an old Indian chief who was no longer able to hunt or travel with his tribe. She prepared his food and ministered to his comforts. She learned to speak the Indian language well. The Indians pierced her nose and ears to put on ornaments such as they themselves were used to wearing.

Many stories told by captives of the Indians described being tortured, which in effect, was the piercing of the ears, nose and plucking off of the hair on the head (of men) when adopting them into the tribe so they would be like the other tribal members in style.

Catherine learned much about the gathering of native foods and herbs for medicinal healing. She remembered these things well after her rescue and used them while living in the Germantown area.

In 1806, a year after Catherine had arrived in Germantown, she was surprised and alarmed over the report of a camp of Indian hunters on Twin Creek near the settlement. Some of the older warriors had known her, and after learning she lived near, they began calling at her home.

Greetings were exchanged and with the party were some of the Indian women she had known from childhood. In the next 4 or 5 years, these hunting parties frequently camped on Bear or Twin Creek and called daily at her home. She feared them but concealed her alarm.

They also applied to her for treatment in sickness. While Tecumseh was exciting the tribes before the War of 1812, she was especially fearful of abduction by the Indians. About spring 1763, the colonies were at comparative peace with the tribes.

Traders roamed freely through the territory now covered by the states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Pontiac was secretly inciting the Indians of all the northwest to organize for a simultaneous attack upon all of the English forts. The warriors of all the Ohio tribes had been called for a general council and this is where the natives who held Catherine captive had gone when she was able to make her leave back to her people.

After Catherine had arrived in the Twin Creek valley of Germantown, Ohio, the hardships were not to be repeated as they were not subjected to Indian alarms. They were influenced about where to build their cabin sites by the water marks of the great floods that swept down the Twin Creeks in the spring of the year of 1805.

This destructive flood had also influenced the early squatters on the land to sell their claims and huts to the newcomers. The Miami River and Twin Creeks rose rapidly and spread out over the bottoms forming a lake and driving the settlers and live stock to the hills for safety. Later, grain and vegetables were planted, the yield was abundant, and the Germans coming in found plenty of grain and produce to buy.

The trail down Twin Creek to the Miami River and the bridle path leading west to the military road were used by traders, but the distance to the mills at Hamilton and other mills was considerable. There was no way to reach Dayton or Miamisburg except by roundabout routes.

The work of building the Gunckel mill at the junction of the Twin Creeks wasn’t begun until the fall of 1805 and finished the next spring so the settlers determined to open a bridle path north to Bear Creek to strike an Indian trail down that stream to Miamisburg, thus opening a route to Lamme’s mill on Hole’s Creek.

A number of men made up a party for the first trip to the mill early in the winter 1805 to get enough meal flour to carry them through until spring. Pack horses were loaded with sacks of corn and wheat. Corn pone and potatoes were taken along and the men expected to kill plenty of game where they camped. The expedition occupied about a week as each man waited his turn at the little mill, quite half of his grain being taken as a toll.

A portion of this party made a trip to the County seat at Dayton to report to the officials the fact of the settlement of the colony on Twin, to mail letters back to Pennsylvania and to trade for black powder and other supplies. The men returned from the mill in parties of two or three as their grinding was done and resumed work in the clearings. School was established and a session was held each day all winter, the pupils ranging in ages from eight to twenty five. Religious services were held from cabin to cabin almost every Sunday.

The twenty cabins of Germans were scattered through the forest, some of them over a mile from a neighbor. The round log cabins of the settlers gave place to more comfortable and roomy hewn log house of two stories by the close of 1807. All had glass windows and shingled roofs but only a few were plastered.

Floors and doors were made of sawed lumber and the chimneys were of brick or stone and mortar. Population of Montgomery County was well scattered through all the townships except the northern parts due to it lying in the direction of the Indian border.

Tecumseh had rather a large village of Shawnees on Greenville Creek, near Fort Greenville, and there were a number of other villages of that tribe around the headwaters of the Big Miami and Auglaize Rivers. The Ottawa were further down in the Maumee country and the Wyandot, Seneca, Delaware and Munsee were on the Sandusky River. The Wea, Eel River Indians and some of the Piankashaw villages were located on the Wabash River. In all, there were nearly 3,000 Indians within easy striking distance of the Miami River settlements.

The Indian trails and the military roads cut through the wilderness by Harmar, Clark and Wayne led from the north and northwest directly to the Miami River. Trails and bridle paths from the Miami led up Bear Creek and the Twin Creeks to Gen. Wayne’s military road and from that line there were open trails and roads directly to all Indian localities of the Wabash, Maumee and upper Miami.

The Twin Creek people were in no special danger, although that section was visited each spring by parties of Indian hunters who frequently camped along Twin and the mouth of Bear Creek for weeks at a time. The larger bodies of Indians, sometimes 500 strong, would camp opposite Dayton or on the river at Ft. Hamilton to trade, or to receive their annuities from the government agents.

It was at these camps that the settlers at times witnessed the Indians playing foot-ball, baggatiway (Lacrosse), having foot races, wrestling, jumping, archery and target shooting. Major George Adams, who lived on the East side of the Miami River, was Commander of the battalion to which the two militia companies of German Township were attached. Brigadier General Edmund Munger was in command of the brigade.

The spring and fall muster days were the great events of the year, the entire population turning out to witness the drills and maneuvers. It was this excellent militia training that prepared the Miami Valley for the prompt response to the call for troops at the opening of the War of 1812.

The army assembled and organized at Dayton for the march to the Maumee country. Dayton had been designated as the rendezvous for troops to operate against the Indians and British of the Northwest and the militia of the State arrived in the village also. Gen. Munger was in command of the Second Brigade, 1st division of the Ohio militia.

In response to the call of Governor Meigs for troops, he ordered the 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment and the Battalion under command of Major George Adams to assemble on April 16 at Adam’s Prairie, near the mouth of Hole’s Creek (Miamisburg). The order was given so that a draft might be made from their ranks to fill Cap. William Perry’s company for immediate service.

The captains of the companies named the men who should go as well as those who should not go. There was no difficulty filling the ranks to go fight the Indians and everyone wanted to go.

The rendezvous for the Battalion in the western part of Montgomery County and portions of the Preble County militia was at Liberty, Indiana. Because of the fact that the upper Twin Creek settlements were more exposed to Indian attacks, that section was not to be drawn upon for troops in this emergency.

The troops were quartered under hastily constructed brush bowers, several field bands were present, flags were flying and about half the town was there to watch. The Germantown colony turned out en masse. On horse back and afoot, headed by their own soldier boys, they proceeded over to the militia camp, carrying their own provisions along for the day’s outing.


Selections of the above history were taken from the book, “The Life of Catherine Lorisch Schaeffer Indian Captive 1746-1818 And A Pioneer Life in the Germantown Valley, Montgomery County, Ohio” with the permission of Martie Mycoff of the Twin Valley Heritage Foundation – copyright 2005.


The Beginnings of our time era: History Part Eight

This continues the story of Montgomery and Preble County’s settlers in the Miami Valley of Ohio with their prompt response to the call for troops at the opening of the War of 1812. Men had assembled on April 16 at Adam’s Prairie, near the mouth of Hole’s Creek (Miamisburg).

Under the order of Governor Meigs, a company of mounted rangers from the gathered regiments was formed for a one year service. Captain Perry was to command the Company. Each man was to furnish himself with a flintlock rifle, musket, side arms or tomahawk, powder horn, bullet pouch, scalping knife, haversack, canteen, blankets and a good horse. Half the company volunteered from the Dayton Battalion with the remainder from a large number of Washington and German Township militia.

These sixty men, as well as the other troops, were clothed in plain homespun linsey-woolsey, deer skin leggings, caps and leather shoes. Officers had fringe down the arms and pants of their clothing.

In April of 1812, Captain Perry and his company were provided with ammunition and provisions. Two hunters were employed to go along and twenty horses for the pack train. The Company moved to Fort Loramie which was located near the northeast corner of Darke County and in Shelby County. In 1794, Anthony Wayne ordered the construction of Fort Loramie.

It was located at the portage between St. Mary's River and modern-day Loramie's Creek. Wayne initially intended Fort Loramie to be an actual stockade, but after defeating the natives at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, he determined a blockhouse and several storage buildings were more important. He now intended Fort Loramie to be a supply depot for American fortifications, including Fort Wayne, Fort Adams, and Fort Defiance, in modern-day northern Ohio.

In December 1795, the American military finally completed construction of the buildings. During the War of 1812, Fort Loramie served as a supply depot for forts in northern Ohio as well as for military forces sent against the British in Michigan and Canada.

The rangers under Captain Perry had hard service. Some were killed, scalped, wounded, captured and murdered by Indians. They were to scout back and forth between the fort at St. Mary’s and Ft. Wayne, to kill Indians they met and not bring in prisoners. In July, the rangers were sent to Vincennes having to fight battles all the way there.

Peter Schaeffer, son of Catherine Schaeffer (whom I mentioned in the Part Seven as a former captive of the Shawnee), served in a German Township and Dayton company that in 1814 was called for a 6 month service in the war. He served under General Harrison.

In 1814, Germantown, Ohio, was platted and Jackson Township formed. The Germantown valley became more thickly settled with farms, barns, and better houses were built to replace the primitive log cabins. The German Lutherans were pioneer missionaries in the border settlements of western Pennsylvania who came to German town in 1805 and by 1809, a log church was built with a yard as a burying ground.

Catherine at this time was in her seventies but continued in the church and in her tending of the sick with skills learned from the Shawnee. She had acquired an extended practice especially successful in treating diseases of children and women, along with treatment of fevers and rheumatism. Dr. Boss, a German physician came from Kentucky in 1805 to practice in Germantown, but died two years later.

During this era, the National Road, today’s State Route 40, had been established from Pennsylvania through Ohio and was a fairly good thoroughfare with taverns at the end of almost every day’s journey. People would come by wagon down this route, with some of the early Germans settling in Germantown. The forks of Twin Creek had become a thriving community independent of Dayton and Hamilton.

By 1815, there were about one hundred dwellings in Dayton, most of them log cabins. The first market house in Dayton, a frame structure, was built in the center of Second St. German Township farmers and others from all over the county took their grain, poultry and produce to the Dayton market for sale. Farmers also benefited by shipping grain, pork and pelts by keel boats down the Great Miami River to the Ohio River or northward to the Maumee River point.

The post office in Germantown was established in 1818 with Peter Schaeffer as first Postmaster. Postage rates were: 6 cents for postage up to thirty miles away, 10 cents up to eighty miles, 12 ½ cents for up to 150 miles, and up to four hundred miles a cost of 18 ¾ cents. In 1825, a trading post or dry goods store was opened in Germantown.

During Catherine’s captivity among the Shawnee, she took part in the work and the recreation of the natives. The modern game of Lacrosse came from the Native American game called Baggatiway that was played by young native men and women. The game was made up of teams of any number, sometimes one or two hundred on a side. Two posts were planted in the ground at considerable distance from each other as much as a mile or more, when large numbers were playing.

Each team had its post and the game consisted of throwing the ball up through the post of the adversary. Each player had a bat about four feet in length, curved at one end and terminating in a sort of racket. The beginning of the game had the ball placed in the middle of the course.

Each team tried to throw the ball out of the direction of its own post. One team would wear a string of feathers down their backs. It was a noisy game often with much violence. Many would watch and cheer the players.

Blue Jacket, a war chief of the Shawnees, was living at Wapakoneta village with his people. In 1798, a territorial court of officers had passed through Dayton, all on horseback on their way to hold court in Detroit. They stopped in Wapakoneta to pay their respects to Blue Jack and watched a game of football. Judge Burnett wrote a description of the game.

A string of trinkets was hung up as a prize and the entire village met on the lawn. A team of men played against a team of women. It was the rule that men were not to touch the ball with their hands on penalty of losing the game, while the women were allowed to pick it up, run with it and throw it as far as they could. When a woman had the ball, the men were allowed to catch and shake her or throw her on the ground if necessary to knock the ball from her hands, but they were not allowed to touch or move the ball except with their feet.

At the opposite end of the lawn, stakes were driven about six feet apart, with the teams placing themselves in front, men on one side, and women on the other. The team which succeeded in driving the ball through the stakes at the goal of their opponents was victor. At the beginning of the game, old Chief Blue Jacket walked to the center of the lawn and threw up the ball, making a loud remark in the Shawnee language.

He retired and the contest began. There were about a hundred players on each team. The game lasted more than an hour when the women became victors with the help of a very large woman who, in spite of the men who seized her to shake the ball from her uplifted hand, she held it firmly and threw the ball through the stakes.

Football and baggatiway were the greatest of games among the Indians when the Ohio tribes were at peace though a long term of years prior to 1776. The villages were undisturbed, tribes would visit each other which would be occasion for feasts, dancing and sports. The woods were full of game, the streams abounded in fish, the farms, gardens and orchards were very productive.

There was a time before the War of 1812 when the Indians in large numbers, 600 or more, would camp on Stillwater River somewhere near present day West Milton and from there send their Chiefs and others into Dayton or Hamilton to draw their annuities. At that point on the Stillwater River, football and other games were played by the younger Indians, stories of which have been often told by witnesses. The war drove the Indians away from this section of the country and their field sports were taken up by the boys and men of the settlements.


Selections of the above history were taken from the book, “The Life of Catherine Lorisch Schaeffer Indian Captive 1746-1818 And A Pioneer Life in the Germantown Valley, Montgomery County, Ohio” with the permission of Martie Mycoff of the Twin Valley Heritage Foundation – copyright 2005.
My thanks to you for your excellent publication.


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